Picks and Pans Review: Americathon
The time is 1998. In energy-starved America, people no longer drive their cars; instead they live in them. Businessmen wear three-piece jogging suits. The President is an est graduate. To erase a $400 billion national debt, the country sponsors a 30-day telethon. Sounds promising, right? Ah, promises, promises. There is barely enough humor in this 85-minute movie to carry a skit (director Neil Israel got the idea, in fact, from a cabaret act). As telethon emcee, Harvey Korman is not up to his Carol Burnett repertoire, and John Ritter is misused as the Chief Executive. Although there is one nice ditty by the Beach Boys ("Still going strong after 40 years"), cameos by rock stars Elvis Costello and Meat Loaf are wasted. Satire ought to transcend its subject—as it did sporadically in Israel's previous Tunnelvision—but here the telethon takeoff is as tacky as the real thing. Tuning out is the best policy. (PG)
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